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Michael Jackson’s death boosts traffic to news sites, affects their performance  

European customers will pay up to twice as much for Windows 7 compared to U.S. users, even though the new operating system will ship without a browser in Europe, according to Microsoft. When the company launches Windows 7 on Oct. 22, it will price Windows 7 Home Premium, likely the most popular of the three editions available at retail, at €119.99 in the European Union and charge £79.99 in the U.K., an EU member that has retained its own currency.

Those prices are roughly the equivalent to $168.66 and $132.14 U.S., respectively. U.S. consumers will pay only $119 for the same software after a two-week pre-order sales discount expires July 11.

That means EU residents will pay 41 percent more, and U.K. consumers 10 percent more, than U.S. buyers for Home Premium Upgrade. Other editions will come with an even higher surcharge. Windows 7 Professional, the key retail edition for businesses, will sport a price tag of €285, or $400.60, and £189.99, or $313.84, at Saturday’s exchange rate. In other words, EU customers will pay twice the $199.99 U.S. price; U.K. buyers will pay 57 percent more.

Michael Jackson’s death on Thursday caused a spike in visits to news Web sites that affected the performance and availability of some of the biggest ones, according to Web monitoring company Keynote Systems.

Between 6 p.m. and 8 p.m. U.S. Eastern Time, the availability for the news sites from ABC, CBS and the LA Times dropped to almost 10 percent, meaning that about nine out of 10 visitors couldn’t get the sites to load.

Starting at 5:30 p.m., the average download speed for news sites tracked by Keynote went from less than four seconds to almost 9 seconds, and their average availability dropped from almost 100 percent to 86 percent. Other news sites that experienced problems included AOL, MSNBC, NBC, the San Francisco Chronicle and Yahoo News.

China Telecom is in talks with Research In Motion (RIM) about offering the BlackBerry in China, as the carrier looks to expand the handset selection for its next-generation mobile network. The companies have “started preliminary contacts” over offering the device, which could potentially use China Telecom’s 3G network, a spokesman for the carrier said.

A deal may not be far off. The companies expect to start sales of the device in the fourth quarter, said Zhang Jun, an analyst at research house Wedge MKI. But the BlackBerry may not strongly attract users. Data services are not yet very popular in China, where voice and text messaging remain the most common activities on mobile phones.

The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) needs more time to examine Oracle’s proposed acquisition of Sun Microsystems beyond an initial review period, Oracle said Friday. Oracle and the DOJ were “almost able” to resolve all the issues, but a “narrow issue” related to the way Java rights are licensed remains outstanding, the company said in a statement. The deadline for the DOJ’s initial 30-day review period was set to expire at midnight on Friday, according to reports in The Wall Street Journal and Reuters. Oracle agreed to acquire Sun in April for US$7.4 billion, after Sun reportedly rejected a purchase offer from IBM.

…And those are the top stories from the IDG Global IT News Update, brought to you by the IDG News Service. I’m Sumner Lemon in Singapore. Join us again later for more news from the world of technology.


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